by Bob Bennett
Haugland believes delegates are unbound, even on first ballot
The delegates choose the nominee
Back in March, long-term member of the RNC Standing Rules Committee and unbound delegate from North Dakota, Curly Haugland told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that:
“’The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That’s the conflict here,’” He said. “The political parties choose their nominees, not the general public, contrary to popular belief,” he added.
When Mr. Haugland was asked what’s the point of holding primaries, if the party can disregard the will of the voters, he responded:
“That’s a very good question.”
The bottom line is: contrary to the portrayal of the candidate and the Media, the party chooses the candidate; primary votes are simply preference polls, or “beauty contests,” as Haugland calls them. Delegates to be sent to the convention are elected in the states. But once they are seated, the delegates are wholly in charge. It’s very similar to our election of members in Congress; once they’re sworn in, we have to rely upon their judgment. That’s representative government.
What Curly said
In a telephone interview today, Curly Haugland told this writer that the candidates who “suspended” their campaigns could resurrect themselves. He declared that he will indeed submit a proposed rule that any candidate with at least one delegate would be eligible for consideration. That would make 8 candidates. The delegates must vote on rules changes. It is, of course, by no means a certainty that such a proposal will pass, especially if a majority of the delegates are Trump supporters.
Haugland reiterated his oft-stated position that all delegates would be unbound on the first ballot, citing rule 38 of the GOP Rules:
“No delegate or alternate delegate shall be bound by any attempt of any state or Congressional district to impose the unit rule. A “unit rule” prohibited by this section means a rule or law under which a delegation at the national convention casts its entire vote as a unit as determined by a majority vote of the delegation.”
When asked if he thought the delegates would exercise that right, Haugland said that though they were unquestionably unbound, they would be guided by whatever moral obligation they personally feel toward the candidate they were bound to.
State rules do not override delegates’ rights, he says
Delegates are not legally compelled to follow the rules of their state regarding binding. In fact, the Constitution, backed up by the SCOTUS protects delegates’ right to vote their consciences, Haugland says.
“The United States Supreme Court has held several times that political parties enjoy protection from both the First and Fourteenth Amendments as they pursue their political objectives. The Republican Party is free to choose whether or not they want to be governed by state laws,” Haugland argued in a written statement. One example, from The Wall Street Journal :
“Justice Scalia [said, writing for] a unanimous Court, … in New York State Board of Elections v. Lopez Torres that, “A political party has a First Amendment right to … choose a candidate-selection process that will in its view produce the nominee who best represents its political platform.” He added that “party conventions, with their attendant ‘smoke-filled rooms’ and domination by party leaders, have long been an accepted manner of selecting party candidates.”
Mr. Haugland declared that every delegate knows they have the right to vote their consciences on the first ballot, because he has sent each one a copy of a book he wrote on the subject.
He added that the delegates are therefore open for lobbying before and during the convention.
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